Group of Black Women Entrepreneurs Come Together for Food, Community, and Sisterhood
So often the media attention surrounding Detroit’s food renaissance is centered on white, male-owned restaurants and chefs. That story is old, tiresome, and most importantly, shunning the hard work and contributions that people of color are making to the city’s rich culinary environment. Earlier this month, social media and local news outlets were buzzing about a special pop-up event. Pop-ups are common in the city, but this one had a special twist – 4 black-women owned food businesses were coming together to offer an intimate four course meal.
We’ve read the studies and heard the statistics of how black women are the fastest growing group of business owners, but this hasn’t eroded the challenges that women of color have in growing and sustaining their businesses. Stories of lack of funding, visibility, and mentorship are all, unfortunately, heard too often. Not this time, though. This pop-up was about collaboration, identity, community, diversity, and of course, the food. It was an evening in which the ladies represented (with men in supporting roles), featuring Ederique Goudia, co-owner of Gabriel Hall, Brittiany Peeler and Le’Genevieve Squires of Relish Catering, Viana Rickett of Simple Goodness, and Lauren Daniels of Sumptuous Spirits.
Held on Tuesday, April 24, the event was held at The Brooklyn Street Local in Corktown and offered two seatings – the first at 6:00pm and the second at 8:30pm. Priced at $60, tickets were limited as the space could only accommodate 34 seats. During the two hour dinner, guests enjoyed dishes from each business that highlighted seasonal and locally-sourced items, signature flavors, and complimentary drinks.
Before the first bite was taken, Lauren of Sumptuous Spirits introduced herself. Established in 2016, she began her business as a way to elevate the typical bartending service. Sumptuous is a full service mobile bartending company that provides services for social and corporate events (including Google), weddings, private parties, and pop-ups. Her business celebrates 2 years next month, and in its time has grown to a staff of 20+ bartenders and 3-4 administrators. She was the lead behind each wine and cocktail pairing of the night.
Here’s a recap of each course:
Course 1: Crispy cauliflower, citrus yogurt, pickled raisin puree, spiced peanuts, and dill. Served with pinot gris.
The first course was presented by Simple Goodness. Led by partners and parents, Lamont Mitchell and Viana Rickett, Simple Goodness is about good food made from scratch and with quality ingredients sourced thoughtfully.
I was a bit apprehensive, yet curious about this dish – while I eat plenty of cauliflower, raisins and peanuts aren’t ingredients I eat much. What a pleasant surprise I got. The texture of the cauliflower was soft, in a way that it seemingly easily melted in my mouth after each bite, and was lightly glazed with the spiced peanuts. It didn’t even taste like I was eating peanuts. Coated with the creamy yogurt, I could detect a dominant spice that I couldn’t quite place but I knew it was something…
It was Indian, Viana revealed. Viana gave a short presentation of herself, her business and the dish, explaining that the dish was true to the chef’s taste preference and that “he likes bold flavors that you’ll remember.”
Course 2: Maque Choux (roasted corn, onions, red & yellow peppers, grape tomatoes & arugula tossed in a fresh cilantro dressing with gulf shrimp. Served with Champagne Cocktail.
This dish was presented by Gabriel Hall, a Creole restaurant, bar, and music venue slated to open later this year in the West Village neighborhood of Detroit, and is led by business partners Dameon Gabriel and Ederique Goudia. Maque choux is traditionally served warm, but in this case it was served room temperature, almost slightly cold. With the arugula, cilantro dressing and splash of lime, this dish tasted like Spring with the bright colors, the natural sweetness brought out by the roasting of the vegetables, the sweet and sour taste of the cilantro, and the touch of acidity from the lime.
Bonus: At the table was individual servings of THE creole cornbread. Any one that knows Ederique raves about this cornbread that she keeps locked down like Fort Knox. The cornbread wasn’t on the menu, so this was an exciting surprise. As always, it was like eating a piece of yellow cake – sweet (but not overly), slightly moist, and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
Intermezzo: Mango Gelato
Before the entrée was brought out, guests were given a small cup of mango gelato as a palate cleanser. From local ice cream shop Sweet Dreamz Creamery, it was reminiscent of eating a ripe mango on a summer's day - naturally sweet with a silky texture. The gelato did exactly what it was meant to do, but also left me wanting just a little bit more.
Course 3: Smoked leg of lamb with mint chimichurri over mirliton puree and scalloped sweet potatoes. Served with Merlot.
The entrée was provided by Relish Catering and supported by Gabriel Hall (mirliton puree) and Simple Goodness (scalloped sweet potatoes). Behind Relish Catering are partners in life and in business, Le’Genevieve and Brittiany, who are driven to educate people who have been deprived of the experience of good food and memories. With their food, they aim to open up the mind and the palate to the wonders of fresh, local and worldly foods with locally sourced ingredients. Their goal is to one day open a food truck.
The leg of lamb didn’t seem like lamb to me - as in it didn’t taste as fatty as lamb can be, but it was tender enough to resemble beef. I enjoyed the mirliton puree, but the meat really popped when combined with the scalloped sweet potatoes. For me, the sweetness of the sweet potatoes complimented the lamb, which was marinated in cabernet wine, explained Brittiany. “We enjoy bringing people together like this, and making memories like this,” she said.
Course 4: Stone fruit cobbler with housemade vanilla bean ice cream. Served with Port Wine.
Relish Catering closed out the evening with dessert – fresh assorted stone fruit baked in a cast iron skillet, with fresh vanilla ice cream, espresso dust, and a mint garnish. The subtly of the vanilla ice cream paired well with the sweetness of the fruit. I didn’t quite taste the espresso dust or the mint, until I was 25 percent finished with the dessert, when one guest at my table exclaimed pleasantly, “…it was like mint, where did you come from?” I liked the burst of mint in the dish as I took my final bites.
This pop-up was about more than just the food – it was the manifestation of black women-owned businesses coming together in sisterhood and solidarity. You could hear the love in how they talked about their food, their business, and see it in their body language in how they worked together, and embraced each other at the closing of the event.
“I thought the pop up was amazing!” said Le’Genevieve. “You were able to see the bond between the food, the chef(s), and the guests. It’s not often that food guests get to interact with the chef in that setting. We told stories, had laughs, and created some great experiences, which is what Relish loves doing.
She added, "For me, the experience meant everything as it aided in the confirmation of my own purpose. For the business, it further pushed us to know we are setting our own rules as well as introduced us to more people to create memories with.”
Ederique shared similar sentiments. “It is challenging to put into words just how much this experience means to me. All our hard work paid off! We’ve received a ton of great feedback thus far. I loved every minute of this experience and am curious to see where we go from here. This may just be the beginning of a series.”
Through this collaboration, these women are proving that the future of food in the city of Detroit is indeed female.
Photography by Valaurian Carter of V.W. Photography